A Toronto woman who was struck by a stray bullet while out for a walk on Blue Jays Way near King Street on May 26, 2020 says the images and profound emotions of that day are registered in her memory forever.
Stacy Da Silva read out an emotional victim impact statement via Zoom on Day 1 of the sentencing hearing for CJay Hobbs, the getaway driver who was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Toronto rapper Dimarjio Jenkins, also known as Houdini, last month.
Da Silva, who was 27 at the time, was also a witness for the Crown at trial. She was struck in the abdomen area during an exchange of gunfire just after 4 p.m. that day.
“I never thought that a simple stroll downtown would turn into a life-altering experience. On that fateful day, I became the unintended victim of a senseless act of violence that has left a lasting mark on my life,” Da Silva told the court.
She said the bullet spared her vital organs by a few centimetres, and the realization that she’d been struck hit her like a “freight train.”
“With the echoes of gunfire in the air, instinct kicked in, propelling me to run and scurry desperately in an urgent attempt to escape harm,” Da Silva said, recalling that she felt like an animal being trapped with no way out.
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While she escaped being seriously hurt, Da Silva said the impact on her mental well-being has been immeasurable. She has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and recurring nightmares, and said the mere thought of going downtown triggers anxiety.
At trial, the jury heard that Hobbs was sitting inside a Volkswagen Tiguan when a lone shooter emerged from the vehicle and opened fire on Jenkins, who was shot multiple times. Surveillance video played at trial showed Jenkins and his associates running south on Blue Jays Way, when two of the associates begin firing a high-capacity handgun back in the direction of the shooter. A little boy was also captured on video, in the line of the gunfire. He managed to escape, physically unharmed. The shooter then jumps back into the Tiguan before the vehicle drives off.
The Tiguan was found later in York Region. It had been set on fire.
Hobbs, who testified in his own defence, told the jury that his friend Jack Loor was the shooter and the two had driven downtown that day to do a drug deal, arguing he did not know that Loor was armed. He testified that Loor began to shoot when the transaction went sideways. Loor was killed in 2022.
The Crown told the jury that Hobbs had rented the Tiguan using fake identification and drove it to Blue Jays Way, where Jenkins was staying in an Airbnb. Jenkins was the intended target. The shooter has never been arrested, the Crown telling the jury that Loor was not the shooter.
Jenkins’ sister, who identified herself only as “KW,” also gave a victim impact statement, saying the shooting was motivated by jealousy.
“My little brother’s success reigned over Toronto and still does today. What a true trailblazer he was for the youths that have big dreams but feel discouraged having been raised in Toronto’s inner-city neighbourhoods. It’s OK to admit that his self-directed success stung the skins of the jealous and wicked-hearted.”
The jury never heard a motive for the shooting. They found Hobbs not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty on the lesser charge of second-degree murder after just four hours of deliberations.
Sentencing submissions will begin next week. Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence. The issue for the judge is the period of parole ineligibility between 10 and 25 years.
Hobbs is facing another trial in April along with two co-accused, charged with the first-degree murder of Dante Andreatta. The 12-year-old boy was struck by a stray bullet while walking on Jane Street near Finch Avenue on Nov. 7, 2020. The jury never heard about that charge.